FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - Voters should pick their politicians, not the other way around.
That was the message from the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, which is a quad-partisan group, who believes Indiana politicians should not be able to draw their own voting districts.
The group held a public meeting Thursday night at the IPFW Science Building.
Commission members said redistricting matters because it is something that happens every ten years in response to US Census data.
Indiana Senate and House lawmakers look at population shifts then redraw their own voting districts.
However, opponents to the current process said, those maps end up looking like jigsaw puzzles.
They also believe certain districts are redrawn to eliminate incumbents or challengers and dilute minority voting power.
Also, to split communities and determine how big of a voice certain communities will have.
For example, Indiana's 4th Congressional District slivers from north of Lafayette, Indiana to Bedford, Indiana.
The 4th district spans about 200 miles, mostly in a north to south direction.
The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission believes that is the ultimate conflict of interest, when politicians are allowed to draw districts to hinder or help incumbents.
"Politicians choosing us, and not us choosing them that makes a lot of sense through this (meeting)," said 17-year-old Fort Wayne Resident Ryan Cooley.
Cooley is a senior at Snider High School and will turn 18 later this year.
Cooley said he attended the program as a class assignment but quickly realized redistricting will affected him for the next ten years.
"A lot of stuff they've done district wise doesn't make a lot of sense," said Cooley.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers have a few guidelines to follow.
Indiana's nine US Congressional Districts need to be redrawn to serve about 711,000 residents.
Indiana's 50 Senate Districts need to be redrawn to serve about 128,000 residents.
Indiana's 100 House Districts need to be redrawn to serve about 64,000 residents.
"Until the public actually becomes involved it's never going to change and the disadvantage to meeting like this is, these meetings only happen once every ten years," said Churubusco Resident Dave Cooper.
Meanwhile, Indiana House and Senate lawmakers are hosting a series of state wide public input hearings.
The meeting will take place Saturday, March 26, from 2 to 4 p.m., at the Allen County Public Library in Downtown Fort Wayne.
"Meetings will be held across the state to hear from constituents regarding new legislative boundaries for Statehouse and congressional districts," said Sen. Tom Wyss (R-Fort Wayne).
The deadline to approve new congressional districts is April 29th.
If that deadline is not met, a five person committee, likely five Republicans, could be tasked with designing and approving new Congressional Districts.
According to the US Census Bureau, Indiana's population is 6,483,802 people.
Since 2000, the state's population has increased by about 400,000 people.
Hispanics accounted for 43% of that growth.
For more information on the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, visit the related content section of this story.
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